Kombucha, everyone is talking about her – in the true sense of the word. More and more people are discovering how positive a sweet and sour fermentation drink is on their health. But not every kombucha is healthy in itself. We explain what to look out for.
Kombucha – probiotic soft drink
Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from tea. Probiotic bacteria and yeasts that form the so-called kombucha fungus are used. Kombucha mushroom gives Kombucha positive properties: it ensures that tea becomes a probiotic drink.
Kombucha is trendy all over the world. Not only because of the refreshingly sweet and sour taste but also because it is very healthy. Here’s how Kombucha has a positive effect on our health:
- regulate digestion and help with gastrointestinal problems
- strengthens the immune system and thus prevents disease
- detoxifies the body
- provides energy and helps in concentration
- has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
Not all effects of Kombucha have been scientifically proven. They have been handed down or are based on reports from the experiences of people who have used them. There are many theories about where kombucha originally came from and who invented it. It is somewhat certain that it originates from the Far East and is at least a millennium old.
Ingredients of Kombucha
The ingredients are crucial for whether the kombucha will have a sweet or sour taste in addition to the fermentation time. Kombucha contains:
- Lots of water: best filtered and without additives because chlorine and minerals inhibit kombucha mushrooms’ growth.
- Tea: black, green, or white tea
- Sugar: Mostly cane sugar, but alternatives are possible
- Mushroom kombucha: It consists of yeast and bacteria
- Liquid mixture: Kombucha mushroom needs a small amount of ready-made, unpasteurized kombucha because it offers an ideal environment for survival.
- Additional ingredients needed to vary the taste
Kombucha mushroom uses sugar as food. The finished drink contains only a small percentage of added sugar. Also, fermentation produces small amounts of alcohol, and tea contains caffeine in kombucha. But there are a few simple tricks on how you can reduce your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol content (more on that later).
Kombucha is made by fermentation
To make kombucha, the ingredients are fermented. Fermentation is a canning method that produces exceptional flavors. Microorganisms are responsible for this. In Kombucha, bacteria and yeasts grow into the Kombucha fungus – also known as SCOBY (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).
The yeast feeds on the sugar used to make kombucha. They convert it to carbon dioxide and alcohol. Bacteria, in turn, form various acids from alcohol and tea ingredients, e.g., acetic acid and lactic acid – hence the sour taste. The acid ensures that no microbes settle.
Rely on “live” kombucha when shopping
If you want to buy kombucha, keep in mind one important thing: kombucha must be unpasteurized to benefit from its positive health effects.
In industrial production, kombucha is pasteurized (heated) so that you can keep it longer. Living microorganisms are dying, and kombucha has hardly any health benefits. Then it approaches the quality of carbonated soft drinks.
Now some producers in German-speaking countries traditionally make their kombucha. Fermentation means that you can store kombucha for a long time, so it does not need to be pasteurized at all.
You can order unpasteurized kombucha from Fairment, Kombucher, Kombuco FIZZ, etc. Even in larger supermarkets (especially in cities) and organic stores, unpasteurized kombucha is no longer so rare.
Nutritional values and vitamins Kombucha
For the nutritional values and vitamins of Kombucha, we compared information from different manufacturers. Calories range from 16 to 55 kcal per 100 ml.
Since kombucha in traditional production varies greatly depending on the ingredients used, preparation, and fermentation time, it isn’t easy to give accurate information about the vitamins it contains.
The manufacturers, therefore, only point out which vitamins have been discovered and therefore could appear, but not in what quantities. Vitamins B and vitamins C, D, E, and K, were mentioned. For example, two studies showed the following B vitamins per 100 ml. Fermentation time was 10 to 15 days:
- Vitamin B1: 74 mg (daily requirement: 1.1 mg)
- Vitamin B2: 8 mg (daily requirement: 1.2 mg)
- Vitamin B6: 52 mg (daily requirement: 1.4 mg)
- Vitamin B12: 84 mg (daily requirement 0.004 mg)
If you look at these results, you might think that kombucha is a real vitamin bomb – at least when it comes to B vitamins. Unfortunately, studies on this topic do not reveal whether vitamin B12 is an active B12 or just an inactive form (analogs) that people cannot use.
Different studies’ results can also vary widely and are difficult to compare. For this reason, the above information should be handled with care.
Also, industrially produced kombucha hardly contains vitamins because many vitamins are lost during pasteurization.
Kombucha in a low-carb, low-fat diet
If you consume only small amounts of kombucha, you can also include a sparkling drink diet low fat and low carb – depending on how strict you are with both diets.
There is hardly any fat in Kombucha: Less than 0.5 g per 100 ml. The glass holds about 200 ml. With a Kombucha glass, you would consume a maximum of 1 g of fat per day.
On the other hand, with a diet low in carbohydrates, you need to look more closely because carbohydrates’ content largely depends on the sugar content (between 3.6 and 11.8 g of carbohydrates and sugar per 100 ml). For comparison: fruit juices contain about 8 g of carbohydrates and more.
A small glass of kombucha can sometimes be drunk diluted with water from a low-carb kombucha, even with a low-carbohydrate diet. If you prepare kombucha yourself, there are ways to reduce the sugar content (see the section “Reducing the sugar content in kombucha”).
Kombucha from a health standpoint
Anyone who tastes Kombucha will quickly notice that it has not only been drunk for centuries, because it is so refreshing. Fermentation makes it a tasty and useful medicine.
Kombucha for a balanced intestinal flora
Fermented foods like kombucha have a very positive effect on intestinal health. That’s because they contain probiotic bacteria, which are also found in the human intestine and can now positively affect the intestinal flora. A healthy gut, in turn, strengthens the immune system, most likely prevents allergies and autoimmune diseases, and protects the body from harmful microorganisms.
Although some studies for other fermented foods confirm the positive effects on the gastrointestinal tract, research into kombucha is rare. However, studies on cell cultures have shown that kombucha can prevent the growth of potential pathogens such as Candida albicans, Haemophilus influenza, Helicobacter pylori, Escherichia coli, Salmonella Typhimurium, and Campylobacter jejuni. Whether this is the case in the human body has not yet been investigated.
Experience reports show that kombucha can help with abdominal pain, diarrhea, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, bloating, and positively affect the intestines after antibiotic therapy.
Effects of Kombucha detoxification
Kombucha also helps detoxify the body. This effect is attributed to glucuronic acid. It is made from sugar and oxygen when kombucha is made. Glucuronic acid is also produced in the liver.
Glucuronic acid can break down harmful substances, such as environmental pollutants and toxins, and make them soluble in water so that they are excreted in the urine. For that reason, kombucha can also help against hangovers. The detoxifying effect of glucuronic acid has been scientifically proven.
Antioxidant effects of kombucha
Many of the health benefits attributed to kombucha are its antioxidant properties. It is known that the consumption of antioxidants can prevent diseases.
Antioxidants fight oxidative stress in the body: It can be caused, for example, by psychological stress, overexertion, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Oxidative stress can contribute to the development of allergies, chronic kidney disease, neurodegenerative diseases ( Alzheimer’syou, Parkinson’s, epilepsy), autoimmune diseases (rheumatism, arthritis), and cancer.
For example, black tea is known for its antioxidant effects. It is traditionally used to make kombucha. One study showed that kombucha has a far stronger antioxidant effect than black tea. This is because, during fermentation, antioxidants are converted into forms that the body can better absorb.
Other possible effects of kombucha
All in all, it is said that kombucha can help with the diseases listed below. These findings come from cell studies, animal studies, or reports of the patient experience. To date, there are no studies that confirm these positive effects on humans:
- Acne and eczema
- high blood pressure
How many kombucha should you drink?
It’s the same with Kombucha as with all other foods: You shouldn’t overdo it. Start with about 150 ml per day (small glass). After a few days, you can increase the amount.
There is no maximum amount to consider when consuming kombucha and which – if used regularly – would lead to side effects. Some manufacturers still give half a liter a day as a guideline. But some people can easily drink a liter or more a day.
The best time of day to drink kombucha is also individual. Some people report that drinking on an empty stomach in the morning or a few glasses during the day gives the best results. It is best to try which intake variant suits you best for drinking.
Is it easy to make kombucha
If you prepare the kombucha yourself, you can adjust the taste and sugar content to your needs: either sweet, sour, strong, or mild – strong burning or less carbonated. It is also fascinating to watch the kombucha change during fermentation.
Ingredients for making kombucha
For 1.5 liters of kombucha, you need:
- 1.5 l of filtered water
- 5 tea bags or 10 g of loose tea in a tea strainer, e.g., B. black, green, or white tea
- 100 g of sugar
- 100 ml of liquid for preparation (ready unpasteurized kombucha)
- 1 kombucha mushroom
Initial culture for kombucha: kombucha mushroom
Kombucha mushrooms, also called tea mushrooms, SCOBY, or simply the ancient culture of Kombucha, can now be easily found on the Internet at various suppliers.
Suppose you have friends who have already made kombucha and can give you a mushroom. Even if you buy Kombucha mushroom online, it is usually already supplied with the liquid for preparation. If you don’t have liquids, buy unpasteurized kombucha.
Kombuchi needs real tea
Feel free to change the taste of the tea. Most of it should be real tea, ie. Black, green or white tea (Camellia sinensis). However, you can also add herbal or fruit tea in small amounts to flavor the flavor and change it.
Experience has shown that kombucha mushrooms develop better when real tea is mostly used. However, there are no precise studies on which tea ingredients are responsible for kombucha’s success. Of course, you should not use artificially flavored tea.
Accessories for preparing kombucha
In addition to the utensils that you can find in almost every kitchen, such as a mixing spoon, a large pot, several bowls for preparing ingredients, measuring cups, and kitchen scales, you will need the following tools to prepare kombucha:
- Kitchen thermometer
- Fermentation vessel made of glass with a volume of at least 1.7 l
- Cotton towel (can be a clean kitchen towel) and elastic band
- Glass bottles with lids
- Coffee or gauze filter (fine particle filter option)
- Complete starter sets of kombucha, which contain almost everything you need to prepare kombucha, are also available on the Internet. But of course, that is not necessary.
Preparation of Kombucha – a basic recipe with detailed instructions
Before you start, a note about hygiene: It is important to work on clean kitchen surfaces and washed hands. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating unwanted germs in your kombucha, which of course, have no place in it.
Briefly boil 300 ml of 1500 ml of water and place the remaining 1200 ml of water in the refrigerator.
Remove the pot from the heat, put it in a tea bag or tea strainer, add sugar, stir, cover, and leave for 15 minutes. Then stir again.
Add the remaining water from the fridge to the pot’s tea water and stir again. Then pour everything into the fermentation vessel. Now measure the temperature with a kitchen thermometer. If the liquid is warmer than 32 degrees, let it cool even more. If the temperature is below 32 degrees, add liquid.
Add the kombucha mushroom to the liquid, cover the fermentation vessel with a cotton cloth and tighten it with an elastic band. Now place the dish in a warm place for the next 1 to 2 weeks (at least 20 degrees, ideally 22 to 27 degrees, without direct sunlight).
If you are satisfied with the taste, take out the kombucha mushroom. You can now fill freshly cooked kombucha into bottles using a funnel through a coffee filter (or gauze) if you don’t want to drink yeast particles floating in the liquid. Then keep it in the fridge, enjoy it immediately or continue with another fermentation (next paragraph).
Over the next few days, white deposits will form on the liquid’s surface. It has to be that way because the kombucha mushroom continues to grow. Long threads that hang from the fungus are also normal – these are yeast chains.
If the kombucha mushroom covers the entire surface and has become a little thicker, you can try your kombucha. This usually takes a few days. The thicker the kombucha mushroom you used, the faster your kombucha will be ready. Kombucha should now be sweet and sour. The longer you let it ferment, the more acidic it becomes and the less sugar it contains.
If mold has formed, you should not take the risk and start over. Do not mix kombucha mushrooms with mold. The mold is formed only on the fungus’s surface and is hairy – on the other hand, and the Kombucha fungus is quite smooth and slippery.
Of course, it makes sense to make larger amounts of kombucha simultaneously by extrapolating the data from this recipe. Then the fermentation time is a bit longer.
Second kombucha fermentation (optional)
After the first preparation, you can flavor freshly cooked kombucha with juice, herbs, or fruit and add carbonic acid if it does not contain enough. This turns the drink into a sparkling soft drink. Carbon dioxide is already produced during the initial fermentation – depending on how long you let your kombucha ferment, but maybe not enough to make the drink carbonated.
Different flavors of kombucha
If you followed our instructions above, you have now completed 5. step, and in front of you is Kombucha in bottles. The second fermentation needs room temperature (20 to 25 degrees). You can now add other ingredients of your choice for flavoring. E.g.:
- Freshly squeezed fruit juice
These ingredients are added only during the second fermentation because the foreign bacteria in these ingredients damage the kombucha fungus during the first fermentation.
For your kombucha to have a pleasant tingling sensation, let it stand for a few days at room temperature (20 to 25 degrees) – regardless of whether you have previously flavored it or not. Yeasts now continue to produce carbonic acid from the remaining sugar from the first fermentation. The sweeter your Kombucha, the more carbon dioxide is produced. If you flavored kombucha with other sweet ingredients (e.g., fructose from fruit), the yeast has again gotten more food than it can convert to carbonic acid.
To prevent the bottles from bursting with carbon dioxide, you should carefully unscrew the lid at least once a day to release the pressure. It is advisable to keep the bottles in a crate during the second fermentation so that no one is injured if the bottle breaks.
If your kombucha starts to foam when you open it, then the process is complete. Then keep it closed in the refrigerator. Fermentation is interrupted by low temperature.
This is how a kombucha mushroom is made
Kombucha mushroom is not a fungus but is formed due to bacteria and yeast’s symbiosis. So, there is no fungus called Kombucha – it is a community of microorganisms. Yeasts produce alcohol, which bacteria together with oxygen convert into acids.
Yeasts and bacteria have an ideal environment in the liquid in which they multiply. They feed on cellulose, spread on the surface of liquids: this is how the kombucha mushroom is created. First, she needs as much oxygen as possible. When it is fully grown, it sinks to the bottom, and a new kombucha mushroom is created on the surface.
You can also continue to use old Kombucha mushrooms. You can recognize older mushrooms by their darker color. If you take proper care of kombucha mushrooms, you should use them for decades.